'The Green Hornet'Going green is about to get even cooler. Sure there's the environment and that 'Green Lantern' guy, but there's also Seth Rogen as newspaper heir Britt Reid, a.k.a. 'The Green Hornet' (releases Jan. 14, 2011).

This big budget comic book movie, now being tweaked for 3D, combines an unlikely hero (Rogen), an even more unlikely sidekick (barely bilingual Taiwanese actor Jay Chou plays Kato) and the unlikeliest of directors (master of the surreal Michel Gondry).

Of course there's also Cameron Diaz as the lady in Britt's life, the requisite villain played by 'Inglourious Basterds' Oscar winner Christoph Waltz and the piece de resistance, The Black Beauty.

After the Beauty was revealed at Comic-Con last year, I had a chance to get up close and personal with the heavily modernized and militarized '66 Chrysler Imperial when I visited the movie's L.A. set. We even got to cruise around downtown Culver City in it, leaving people with perplexed expressions and jaws agape in our rumbling engine's dust.

But the car might be one of the very few throwback elements. Even back in December, long before talks of 3D, Gondry, producer Neal Moritz, Waltz, Rogen and his writing/producing partner Evan Goldberg were adamant that their take will be far from what you expect, and like no other superhero flick you've seen.

Here's what else we dug up on the set ... 'The Green Hornet'Going green is about to get even cooler. Sure there's the environment and that 'Green Lantern' guy, but there's also Seth Rogen as newspaper heir Britt Reid, a.k.a. 'The Green Hornet' (releases Jan. 14, 2011).

This big budget comic book movie, now being tweaked for 3D, combines an unlikely hero (Rogen), an even more unlikely sidekick (barely bilingual Taiwanese actor Jay Chou plays Kato) and the unlikeliest of directors (master of the surreal Michel Gondry).

Of course there's also Cameron Diaz as the lady in Britt's life, the requisite villain played by 'Inglourious Basterds' Oscar winner Christoph Waltz and the piece de resistance, The Black Beauty.

After the Beauty was revealed at Comic-Con last year, I had a chance to get up close and personal with the heavily modernized and militarized '66 Chrysler Imperial when I visited the movie's L.A. set. We even got to cruise around downtown Culver City in it, leaving people with perplexed expressions and jaws agape in our rumbling engine's dust.

But the car might be one of the very few throwback elements. Even back in December, long before talks of 3D, Gondry, producer Neal Moritz, Rogen and his writing/producing partner Evan Goldberg were adamant that their take will be far from what you expect, and like no other superhero flick you've seen.

Here's what else we dug up on the set ...

And ... Action!
As for venturing into the action genre, star and screenwriter Seth Rogen admits that this won't be like most action flicks in one very big way: the end. "We wanted good action throughout," Rogen says, "but we wanted to make sure the end is the blow-your-mind orgasm that you want at the end of an experience like that."

Front Page News
Our first stop was the set for The Daily Sentinel, Britt Reid's newspaper. They had just finished filming the big third act action sequence, and it left the place in shambles. Papers everywhere, walls crumbling, bullet shells scattered all around the floor ... oh, and half a Black Beauty (there were over 25 of them used during filming) dangling from the elevator shaft. Wonder how that happened ...

All About Britt
If you're not as familiar with The Green Hornet as, say, Spiderman, don't worry. This movie may revamp the original, but it starts from the very beginning. Says Rogen: "We approach it as an origin story. When you find me, I'm in no way the type of person that would ever care to stop a crime or be equipped to stop a crime. We really wanted to chart the evolution of just your normal everyday dude into what the world views as a superhero."

Don't Doubt Him
Director Michel Gondry doesn't let negative press get to him -- talking about the less-than-positive response to him doing a big budget movie, he was very honest. "That's too bad they feel this way. It's hard enough for me to get a movie. If I get ghettoized, what do I do? The best email I received, or blog I read, was 'Seth Rogen is the worst actor in the universe, and whoever hired Michel should be fired.' It was really awesome -- I framed it."

Good at Being Bad
Does Christoph Waltz enjoy playing the villain? "Well, you need the villain. If you don't have a villain, the good guy can stay home. [Laughs] I don't know whether or not I should disclose this little secrecy, but I just declared my ignorance to my advantage. I turned it around. I stick with my ignorance because that would make it, maybe, unusual. If I jumped into the cliché, everybody will have seen it before. If I stick to my ignorance a little bit, maybe it will turn out different. Or maybe a slightly new aspect to a comic book villain."


Going Gondry
Producer Neal Moritz talked to us about the decision to hire Michel Gondry to direct, as opposed to someone with more big-budget action experience. "The look of the movie is probably very different than from what people will expect. Obviously when we hired Michel to do this movie, it wasn't the most obvious choice, but I think that's what is lending a freshness to this genre."

Calling for Backup
On a huge movie like this, the 2nd unit works just as hard as the first. In this case, 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong has taken the lead on a lot of the practical action scenes. Fun fact: Armstrong is also known for donning a very famous fedora to be Indiana Jones' stunt double. With Britt Reid in a similarly brimmed hat, Armstrong had some great hat acting advice for Rogen. "He's the best brimmed-hat stunt man there is," Rogen laughs.

Sidekicking
Seth speaks very highly of his butt-kicking costar, Jay Chou, who barely speaks. "He's definitely the strong-but-silent type, but that makes up for me because I'm the weak-but-loud type. So I think together we complement each other very well. As you can see in [the sizzle reel], he gets a lot of the laughs. It's not just me, you know? He has great timing. ... Like he is the leader. He is cooler, he is smarter, he is much more physically adept than I am and it played into the whole joke that we have for the movie -- basically, that he shouldn't be the sidekick, you know?"

Getting the Girl
Cameron Diaz plays Lenore Case, who is Britt Reid's secretary ... and most likely a little more. Rogen dishes: "Her role throughout the movie has a very distinct evolution that I probably shouldn't ruin, but she's fantastic. She's a true delight to work with. She's really funny. We couldn't believe we got her to be in the movie. It was surreal. It's one of those things like, 'I'm talking to Cameron Diaz right now!' [Laughs] Very weird." So what about sparks flying? "There is, uh, romantic desire targeted in her direction. [Laughs]"

Jamaica Me Crazy
When recapping the many iterations of the cast and the script, Moritz let a little Nicolas Cage story slip -- originally in talks to play the villain, Cage insisted on doing it as a Jamaican, accent and all. When we asked Rogen about this, he was very honest. "When that dissolved, we saw it as a real opportunity to kind of get back to a version of the character that we were more interested in all along ... which was definitively not from the Bahamas or any Bahamian region."

In Waltzes Christoph
Before Christoph Waltz was even nominated for his Oscar (but after we all knew it was imminent), he was gracious enough to come to set, even though he wasn't working that day, just to talk to us. Admitting this genre was completely foreign to him, Waltz laughed about being surrounded by funny people. "This is a group of people who come from stand-up comedy, and they have a completely different approach. I'm very bad with improvisation -- I hate it -- and that's their forte, their modus operandi. Mine is studying script and being very academic and trying to be important. [Laughs] And they are very easy and quick and witty. So it took a little adjustment on my side, but then I sort of caught on to it."

Pimp My Ride
Gondry has supposedly come up with psychedelic headlights for the Black Beauty that'll literally make people pass out. Cool enough, but has he found a new way to blow up cars? "I hope so. I think you're going to see stuff you haven't seen before. Not necessarily with the explosions -- the explosions are really awesome, and there are quite a good amount of them -- but there are other things. They're surprises."

Playing Tough
Waltz admits that while action is fun, the rehearsals are even better. "My absolutely favorite part in the whole shoot was the first rehearsal with the big gang of bad guys. Big muscles, mean faces ... they were armed to the teeth. Fantastic. So of course you have to rehearse it, so they all storm in. There are about 30 or 40 of them, but during rehearsals, you don't shoot bullets or blanks ... no explosions. So they all run in, very dangerous, yelling, 'Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!' [Laughs] I couldn't believe it! These tough guys are like little boys on the playground! 'Bang, bang, bang...' So I don't care about the take where they shoot the guns, but I never want to miss another rehearsal!"

Writing Sidekicks
Goldberg and Rogen are very open about who's the Britt and who's the Kato of their writing partnership. "According to Christoph, I'm the Green Hornet and he's my sidekick," Rogen says, pointing to Goldberg, who laughs, "Christoph said I was the sidekick." But Rogen reassures, "It's not at all like that actually. I'll tell you, it is completely equal. And if anything, he touched more so he probably gets the lead."

The Final Outcome
After countless iterations (including the aforementioned Jamaican-ized version), Rogen says he's thrilled with the outcome. "We got to make the exact movie we wanted to make. We got Gondry as the director, we got the cast that we never would've dreamed of ... it's one of those things where it's almost like every time we had a setback, something much better ultimately would arise. We feel like we've really accomplished something because so many people said we never would do it."